At Freddie Gray’s Funeral, A Call for Real Change

Mourners say city leaders must finally pay attention to the consequences of police brutality in Baltimore

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Story Transcript

STEPHEN JANIS, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER, TRNN: They came to mourn both a man and a community. After a weekend of protests, a city joined together to commemorate the life of Freddie Gray, whose death in police custody nearly two weeks ago had come to embody their pain and estrangement from both the city and its leaders.

Thousands gathered at Shiloh Baptist Church in West Baltimore to bid farewell just two days after mostly peaceful protests expressed a communal frustration with policing in Baltimore, an outpouring of grief and anger over the frayed relations between the police and the community.

BILL MURPHY, GRAY FAMILY ATTORNEY: You want to know whether our courts are going to respond at the highest level. Whether our police department will be reformed so that that blue wall of justice– [Applause].

JANIS: The services focused on Gray’s life. His devotion to family, friends, his laughter, and a family’s sorrow. But beyond the confines of the church, Baltimore City government appeared to up the rhetoric of conflict between the police department and the community. Earlier in the day the police tweeted out a cryptic press release warning that gang members like the Black Guerrilla Family were plotting to target officers. The release cited credible threats. Meanwhile businesses across the city shut down, including T. Rowe Price which sent employees home early due to reports that protests were imminent.

But at the church, mourners said their focus was on Gray.

SPEAKER: They know they was wrong. Everybody know they was wrong. It don’t take a scientist to figure that out.

JANIS: And perhaps something city officials refuse to acknowledge, a need for fundamental change, a hope that something constructive would emerge from the death of their friend. Change, they say, would be a real tribute to the man who they both knew and loved.

SPEAKER: I hope some prosecution come out of it. If it don’t, I hope we can come together. That’s for sure. I hope we can come together.

JANIS: Reporting for The Real News Network, Stephen Janis in Baltimore.

End

DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.